We’ve reviewed the previous three Dark Ditties episodes The Offer, Mrs. Wiltshire, and Finders Keepers over the past year or so. Now, with their fourth episode, The Witching Hour, they expand to feature-length, something I actually suggested in my review of The Offer. While I’m glad to see them make this move I did have one big concern.
The Witching Hour is yet another entry in the “desperate ghost hunters get in over their heads” genre. From interviews with co-writer Gary Smart, I see that this was in pre-production for a while. It may have had the bad luck to get caught in the crowd when everyone with access to a camera decided to crank out a cheap film in this sub-genre. Smart and co-writer Neil Morris have done a good job of finding fresh twists for the plots of the previous episodes. Can they, and director Adam Evans do it again?
Samantha (Jamila Martin-Wingett) has been having nightmares for several years. Particularly nasty ones concerning a dark figure named Tyberius Krane (Ethan Mckinley). After a particularly bad one, she can’t get back to sleep and turns on the TV. There’s a supernatural investigation type show on. It looks awful, but with nowhere else to turn she reaches out to them.
That show, The Witching Hour, is on its last legs after a young girl died during one of their episodes. Selwyn Parsons (Ian Gelder, Game Of Thrones) and psychic Marvin La’Fantome (Bruce Jones) seize on her case, and its connection to the infamous, and unsolved, Benoit Murders, (no connection the wrestler Chris Benoit who infamously killed his family and himself) as their salvation.
But of course, Krane isn’t just a boogeyman in Samantha’s nightmares. He led his followers in a mass suicide over a hundred years ago and has been looking for a way back to our world ever since. Now he has the means to do it.
To its credit, The Witching Hour does manage to rise above a lot of other similar films. The build-up manages to be effectively creepy while still being shot through with very pointed humour. Much of it aimed at the industry higher-ups like the show’s producer George (Mark Wingett, Quadrophenia, Dead Again). Even after it’s obvious that things have gone horribly wrong watching some of the cast and crew looking to cover their asses as a priority is grimly amusing.
Which is not to say The Witching Hour is short on shocks. There are some solid scares once Krane makes is appearance. Scares that are backed up with some excellent practical effects from Stuart Conran (Doomsday, Attack The Block). Krane himself looks like a truly corrupt and evil version of something that was once human. He’s an excellent and unsettling presence.
Sharp-eyed viewers will pick up a couple of connections to previous episodes as well. The Benoit Mansion scenes were filmed in the same location as The Offering. And a good bit of the carnage in The Witching Hour involves someone from a previous episode. Obviously I’m not saying who, but it’s a fitting connection.
The Witching Hour certainly maintains the high standards of previous episodes. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. And if they maintain the longer running length.
Dark Ditties Presents “The Witching Hour” will be playing various festivals before joining the other episodes on Amazon and other streaming services. You can check for screenings on the Dark Ditties Facebook page.